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Jefferson Morley Education. (2012) 'Snow Storm in August Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.'

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Washington 46, Francis Scott 13, Beverly 12, Mrs. Thornton 9, Lundy 5, Jackson 5, Pennsylvania 4, U.s. 3, William Thornton 3, William Lloyd Garrison 3, Roger 3, Us 3, Barack Obama 2, Navy 2, Isaac Cary 2, John Cook 2, Boston 2, Israel 2, Georgetown 2, New York 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Jefferson Morley  Education.  (2012) 'Snow Storm in August  
   Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race...  

    September 2, 2012
    10:00 - 11:00pm EDT  

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at the top since the robber barrens of the 19th century, and i wonder if people, one, thinking about the presidential election, think that you are demonizing the rich, demonizing mitt romney, that are simply tools of the left wing, the democrats, and president obama. >> guest: we may well be, but we've been consistent for 40 years. >> host: okay. >> guest: we just believe the playing field should be level, that's all. level. >> guest: we've been writing about taxes for many, many years, and have advocated a fairer system than we have now, but those are the good old days compared to what's happened in the last 10-15 years in terms of rate cuts and the way the rates for the very wealthy changedded. this is not new to us. look at obama's tax plan and ours and say, well, you're endorsing it. we've been writing about these things for quite a while, but on other areas like trade and
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deregulation, our criticisms are -- you see the fingerprints of both parties there. there's no doubt about that. you see an awful lot of democrats who bought into the free trade ideas, and by buying into it, i mean, without the kinds of restrictions, without some oversight to make sure that it was played properly. ..
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>> the way that we think that things have been in the past, that is what we are talking about. not in the other believe. >> host: donald barlett and james steele of the author of this fabulous new beau, "the betrayal of the american dream." both journalists, extraordinary man, you're both in their 70s now? >> almost. together, at the scene for over 40 years at the very top of american journalism and absolutely held up as a paradigm of american investigative journalism. this is truly a book that you can't stop reading. i read it, and i had great, great interest. "the betrayal of the american
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dream." thank you so much. >> that was "after words", booktv's signature program, in which authors are interviewed by journalists, public policy meiners, others familiar with the material. "after words" interviews airs on 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on saturday common 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online apple tv.org and click on "after words" in the booktv series and topic list on the upper right side of the page. up next, jefferson morley and his book, "snow-storm in
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august." francis scott key come who authored the star-spangled banner defended slavery in his prosecution and saw capital punishment only to be thwarted by the alleged victim, anna thornton, whose husband william thornton fell victim capital. [applause] >> thank you thank you for quinn booksellers. they are so kind to post host this. i'm very glad i went here in minneapolis. i want to tell you a little bit about the book. i'm going to read a little bit many familiar faces.
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whenever i come back to minneapolis, i have a special place what marshall university was. there are a few people who remember the place is not agree with me. it is always nice to be back with old friends. i will really date myself here. i even attended an advanced placement class of the old west high school in which was right down here on hennepin. you have to be really old to remember when west high school was there. [laughter] you know, people have asked me a lot. they said why did you write this book? i usually say it is just a great sport. it is a story the story of what happened. events themselves are so amazing. as a writer, i would never dare to make them -- make up the
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elements of this book has great when i realize that they had all happened, i thought that was really terrific. as i got into the book, i realized there was actually more to it than that. the book actually had an even more profound message. that was that this book takes place between the revolutionary war. that, the founding of the country in the late 18th century, and the civil war. two. if they get written a lot when i realized as i was writing the book is pretty much everything you know about that. mark and everything you have been taught about that period is flat wrong. completely wrong. so i realize that part of this book is to tell people about. that. but everything you thought you understood about this book is
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wrong. if you think about washington in 1835, 25 years before the civil war, you know, what would you think? you think that slavery was well entrenched. the black people were miserable. the lights were kind of cruel and indifferent. that is actually not true at all. in washington, come on washington had about 30,000 people then as a city. at 12,000 of them were black. the majority of them in 1830 were free. they were not slaves out of the 12,000 black people, slightly more than half were free. some were prosperous and others were getting there fast. there was a man named lynch wormley who aren't owned a big livery stable two blocks from the white house. and he was part of this city taxi trade. he was a free black man from madagascar. there were two brothers, thomas and -- thomas and isaac kerry.
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they owned barbershops. on pennsylvania avenue printmaking from reebok family. one of the free black families that own slaves themselves. they would sell anti-slavery publications on the side. the hero of the book, beverly snow, ran the city's finest restaurants, he is really the hero of the book. i think of him as a barack obama, slightly ahead of his time -- a clever, intelligent, mixed-race man who conkers in terms washington, serves the washington elite what they want, only to face a tremendous backlash. if you read the book, you will see some parallels to our own time there. in this book, far from slavery
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being dominant in washington dc and all oppressive as a force, it is actually receiving and the forces of liberty, and the forces of liberty are growing. that is what this book really is about. you probably think the civil war began in april of 1861. with the gunfire at fort sumter. that is when the shooting of the civil war began. part of the argument of this book is that the civil war actually began 30 years before that. it is in this period in the early 1800s of the anti-slavery movement first comes to washington and the direct ideological conflict that leads to the civil war, a conflict between the people who are poor slavery and those who are against it, it actually starts in this time in washington. that is not something that you get taught in the history books, but you will see from the story but that is actually the case. and that is what happens.
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it is the spirit of people, the cary brothers and lynch wormley, beverly snow, who are actually the ones that lead to the civil war and the great war. they had this group of black opportunities entrepreneurs. he traveled around the country. a familiar face, for me. most of the newspapers of the day avoided the slavery issue. it was reported that this man --
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here's how the slaves escaped, here's how the churches have caved in. he really did real investigative reporting that was quite unprecedented at the time. anti-slavery sentiment, as this movement starts to grow in washington, yes enough money to hire a new system. he hires a young man from boston named william lloyd garrison. and he teaches them how to be a journalist and how to report about slavery. in a great irony, benjamin lundy would go into obscurity and william lloyd garrison will go on to be a great writer. he is a character, too. one of the things you probably think is that the only thing that francis scott key did well was right. three. after he wrote the lyrics to "the star spangled banner", he went on to an interesting career in politics.
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francis scott key was a modern jfk after he became famous. he did what people in washington do, and he parlayed his fame into a lucrative law practice. and then he parlayed that into political connections. then he parlayed that into a job. that was the combination of francis scott key's political career when he was appointed to be the district attorney for the city of washington. what he did in our time was -- i don't think it was as significant as writing the star-spangled banner, which was an enduring feat, but it was very important. an unknown factor fact about francis scott key is his best friend was a man named roger carney -- roger helped in the
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administration of andrew jackson. first he helped them become the u.s. attorney general and then the secretary of the treasury, and in 1836, the chief justice of the supreme court. roger went on to write the scott decision in 1857 promote effectively legalized slavery and hasten the coming of the civil war. so he and roger were inseparable figures, influential and important in a way that is totally forgotten. there was a key bridge that crosses the potomac river. and there is a part where he used to live. in the park was an exhibit that was devoted to them. there was one that says that key was active in anti-slavery causes. this is flat wrong.
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it is completely wrong. it would be much more accurate to say that he was active in suppressing anti-slavery causes. part of the point of the book is that. to remind people of the other things that we really don't want to remember of our own history. this is a book about the real francis scott key. they give the wrong impression. this book is not a polemical book. it mostly tells an amazing event events that took place in 1835 in 1836 in washington. it begins on the night of august 4, 1825, 177 years ago, when a young man, a servant, 19-year-old african-american man settles into the bedroom of his mistress, ana maria thorton, carrying an ax. william thornton is sleeping in the room with her servant, who
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is arthur's mother. that mother of the boys stumbling into the room. the two women wake up, screaming, arthur's mother shoots him out the door, slams the door, yelling and shouting that he wants to be free that he's going to be free. the neighbors gather. the word begins to spread that mrs. thornton has been attacked by slaven or better. this burgeoning anti-slavery movement -- there have been anti-slavery publications handed out to people encountered the reality of slavery is impressed upon people with these written reports, detail about what is really involved in the brutality of slavery.
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among a lot of whites come and they fear that this is a first part of a slave rebellion. arthur was part of the slave rebellion in attacking mrs. thornton. so when arthur turns himself in a few days later and says i have no memory of what happened, he is whisked off to jail and a mock conversions on the jail in downtown washington in judiciary square. and tries to seek and demand that he be turned over so that he can be hung on the spot. francis scott key comes to the defense of the jail is trying to hold back the crowd. fortunately, the secretary of the navy calls in the federal troops, the marines from the navy yard on the other side of washington. the troops march down pennsylvania avenue, surround the jail and push the crowd back and protect the jail. but arthur will not be lynched. it is only temporarily restored because the mob, frustrated by
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the fact that they cannot get there hands on arthur, decide to turn their fury on every other free black person in town. the mobs began to split up and attack any black people who have property, the black churches, the black schools, the black poorhouses come at any place where black people gather, the mobs are going to destroy them. including, first and foremost, emily snow's restaurant, which is a symbol, the symbol in washington of black success. the restaurant is right in the heart of town at the corner of sixth and pennsylvania. it is frequented by politicians, senators, congressmen, the finest of high society, beverly snow is a well-known and respected character, and the mob, and its fear of this antislavery movement, fear of slave and black success, attacked the snow. snow had friends and he knew there was trouble coming. he manages to escape and get
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away. but the mom trashes his restaurant, drinks all of his liquor, portugal outcome and then goes on the rampage and destroys the city. it is quite a shocking event. it has been totally forgotten history of washington. when asked people about this, one reason i have asked us if you have ever heard about the right in 1837 and i have never met anybody who has. it is completely forgotten. but when he read the newspapers to me realize what a shocking event at once. was the worst thing that happened in washington that the british have invaded 20 years before in 1814. they came in and destroyed the white house and the labor congress and all that. this was comparable damage, but it did not get inflicted by american army. it was why americans themselves. a lot of her termination. a lot of shame like how could this happen. francis scott key is determined to pursue the agenda of the
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they want to make sure that the slaveowners are safe in washington. they are not going test laser runway. and so he, his district attorney, has the job of establishing law and order. he does this in a couple of ways. the first thing that he does as he puts arthur going on trial for the attempted murder of mrs. thornton. he also rests in part on trial a white abolitionist, anti-slavery man from new york, a doctor named reuben crandall, who had been bringing a truckload of anti-slavery publications to washington. he wanted to send a message not just to the antislavery forces in washington, but to those everywhere in the country. your activities will not be tells the story pass. then the story of the criminal trials that followed.
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when arthur goes on trial in eager to win a conviction. by this time, mrs. thornton has come forward and has come to the defense of her alleged assailant. she says in the trial that arthur never lifted the acts and never intended to hurt her. she felt safe in his presence. but he was just drunk and she wanted the whole thing go away. well, he was implacable and didn't listen to this for the override her testimony. so arthur is convicted and there is only one punishment for that. which is the death penalty, capital punishment. so arthur goes on to death row. in january of 1836, is sentenced to die in about a month.
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with the clock ticking, mrs. thornton does something even more unbelievable. it was amazing enough that she had testified on arthur's behalf in the criminal trial, but now she goes out and starts recruiting her friends in high society of washington, and she was a very prominent woman with very prominent french braid easy access to the leadership of the country. she went to van buren and instead, use your good offices with the vice president with president jackson intoned that he should pardon arthur bowen. you know, his mother is very good. but the execution would be worse than the crime. but she couldn't contemplate that arthur would be executed. he and jackson are unmoved. so the clock keeps ticking down. i'm going to read you a little part of the book about what happens in february of 1836.
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in his cell, arthur weld the fear of death. he hoped for a pardon from president, but he had to be ready if it did not happen. he had to admit the truth of what was said all along. yes, he had a right to be free, but he had to sort out for them. arthur's protestations that he never threatened harm failed to convince even himself. of course, he had no intention. the drink gave him that intention. by drinking, the murder sharpened, he was a schoolteacher, john cook, who advised about ways to get his freedom. he was also a temperance man and told the young slave boy's if you wanted to be free, you had to learn to read and write and stop drinking. arthur had condemned himself and for that he had to take responsibility. he decided to write a poem.
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with pen and paper in hand, he sat in the dim light of his jail cell hell are he had a talent like william thornton for writing. farewell, farewell, i'll do my dreadful state. he made a curious reference to his family, brought up by parents whose commands i would not obey, but plunged ahead into temptations dreadful way. he admitted his folly is one of the teachers of his elders. at last i've never used to think that i was doing wrong. to me was read the awful sentence, or dreadful in my ears it ring, he gave me time for my repentance, and then i must be hanged. goodbye, goodbye my friends so dear, may god almighty please you all. do what you must, shed a tear on arthur bowen that fall.
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the poem circulated. the intelligence was the big newspaper in washington, published a copy. the newspaper in georgetown pronounced it very credible. everyone in washington seems to know that mr. thornton's personal edition had been presented to president jackson. it asked them to exercise ever see which is in his power alone. the people said it was the deepest anxiety. i'm going to leave it there. [laughter] you have to buy the book. [laughter] i know what happens next. with one no, just to bring this story back to the present, when the book was reviewed in the "washington post", the reviewer took issue with an argument that i made in the book, which is
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that if i spent more and more time writing the book, i realized there were more and more similarities between the politics of the 1830s and politics today. and i said that the red blue politics that we see today, the red states are conservative, the blue states are liberal -- if you will, it originates in this. i disagree quite strongly with that -- that review of consensus. he said leaders may find that element of the book charm. given that the assertion of anti-slavery forces existed through red and blue. it is misleading at worst. i totally disagree. i think the similarities are quite clear, as i point out in the book, they really revolve around the time of the issues in politics. it is no surprise that they are the same. then as now, americans argue
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about what our -- what kind of property rights as an individual have? in the 1830s, that argument revolved around slavery. the people have the right to own property and people and the red forces, which are traditionally the forces in favor of more property rights, maximal property rights, were in favor of the maximal property rights embodied in slavery. the liberal forces, which are traditionally, those that have a more restricted view of property rights, had said no, there's no such thing as property of people. likewise in the debates about citizenship. part of the debate about slavery was about citizenship. the blacks have the right to be owned? today's debate about illegal immigration. do they deserve the right to be citizens today? than an outcome of the conservatives to the restrictive
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position. they thought american citizenship was reserved for nativeborn americans. the liberals took a more expansive view, then as now, that citizenship was open to a greater number of people. also with free speech. when francis scott key is prosecuting the anti-slavery movement, it is a classic free-speech argument of the type we still have today. he said no, we have to restrict free speech rights to protect our safety. you know, if we allow the forces to say this, then we will have slave rebellions and we will all be insecure. so we need to restrict free speech. the same argument that conservatives make today and liberals take the same position that they do now, which is no, free-speech rights should be maximized and we should worry less about that and more about preserving free speech. that is a very strong theme that some people disagree with it. read it for yourself and decide
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for yourself. with that, i think i'm going to stop and just answer any questions that people might have about the book or whatever i have said so far. >> yes? >> when did you first come across this piece of history, and how long did you nurture it before you decided to write about? >> about 1998, i was a reporter at the "washington post" and working on a story about a neighborhood historic preservation dispute, which got me to the city of washington. i had first heard there had been a race riot and i ran around and i asked about it. did you ever know about this race riot? has anybody ever written about this? nobody had written about it and nobody knew about it. i knew it was a story then. and so i wrote a piece for the
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sunday "washington post" in 2005. it was such a great story that i decided to write a whole book about it. i kind of had in the back of my mind. in 2009, i got fired from my job and i said, no job, no one can write that book, write that book, and have a good time. so even after i wrote the article in 2005, i always thought that i will write a book about this someday. i continue to do more research. i nurtured it for a long time. then when i got this contract, that was three years ago, it took about two years to research and finish the book. in that hole. next time. >> you mentioned william lloyd garrison. did used to be tutored by lumley, i believe? >> just. >> he was in line with this particular incident. was he in washington, did you say?
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>> whate'er sinan lundy did -- no one had ever done in american journalism, they would go out and write about specific slavey traders and they would name names.ñ? nobody had ever done this before. lundy started doing this. originally they were published in baltimore, which was a bigger slave trading town. they both wrote articles about different slave traders. one thing that this man was obese and had sold off children in broken families. actually, both of them. that is what they wrote about. in both cases, the slave traders waylaid them after their articles were printed, they beat the heck out of them, and then one lundy filed charges in this case, the judge said, well, you deserve it, and dismissed the case. in the garrison case, after beating there is not, the slave trader also charged him with libel. garrison was about to go on trial in baltimore in 1833.
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and he knew that he was not going to get a fair trial. so he skipped town and left in 1833. he went back to boston, and that's when he founded the liberator, which became the great antislavery publication in the united states. lundy had to leave town as well. he was charged in 1833 -- he wrote an article that was well-known in washington at the time. a black woman was walk across the bridge of the potomac and the constable started chasing her. and people in washington knew what that meant. constables supplemented her income by kidnapping free blacks and selling them into slavery. the woman admitted she was being chased, she fell into the stream and drown. they got ground and buried her. lundy wrote an article and said, look, here's what happened, here is the name of the constable.
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if the district attorney is going to do something about it, then congress should do something about it. and so he hit the roof. he was this. he immediately charged monday with libel. he was always trying to drive the anti-slavery people out. they wanted to get rid of the anti-slavery forces in washington. and so lundy did the same thing that garrett said. he was facing like a thousand dollar fine, which would be, $20,000 or $100,000 in today's money. he collected one last meal from his friends and he took off and went to philadelphia. so the anti-slavery movement was very embattled throughout this time. that was key's mission. to drive these people out of
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suppression. >> was there, at this time, what you call mainstream press covering this whole thing, including the abolitionist newspapers? >> no. there were a lot of papers at the time. three daily newspapers at the time. reflecting three different political tendencies, and there were weekly newspapers. there was also a weekly newspaper in georgetown, which was separate. it is now part of washington dc, but then it was a separate municipality. there a lot of newspapers. these were newspapers that were aligned with political factions in the government. and so they would talk about -- they would write about slaveryw8 is the politics of slavery were playing out in congress.w8w8w8w8 somebody presented a petition to the abolitionist slavery and th9 district of columbia.w8w8w8w8w88 w8ey would write a story aboutu8 that.w8w8w8 but about the experience of slavery or the abuses of slavery, they would never write about.w8w8w8w÷w8
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>> what about the race riot?wxw: all about?v859v8 >> the race riot was very wellv8 covered because it was very787:x shocking. nobody expected that to happen, and there was a lot of787:6]78 recriminations and debates.v8wzx you know, who is responsible.7: then the white workingman -- it8 was attributed attributed to a7x mechanic. a mechanic was -- there was any kind of workingman. itw: wasn't like, you know, our conception of a mechanic or anw: auto worker.u8u8u8u8u8u8u8 the mechanics got together and5ñ see said how dare you say thatvx we did this. w8 didn't do that.u8u858u8 there were lots ofu86?u8wx recriminations and i was covere] but what happened beverly snow, nobody ever wrote about that.
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snow took out advertisements all the time. that was the cheaply that they5ç figured out who she was.u8u8u8u8 the advertisements were very witty, they changed all theu8u8 time, and he really disclosed a lot of his personality and5xu8 their.u8u8 when push came to shove, now:w88 white authorities wanted to be seen in the position of defending the free blacks. that was why public authority kind of collapsed. because nobody wanted to be seen as doing that. the newspapers were part of that. they really didn't want to touch the issues. it was too explosive for them. >> what about mrs. anna thornton 's campaign? >> her husband was really important, had designed the u.s. capitol and was a very close friend of george washington's and thomas jefferson. she was a leading lady.
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while they would not write about what she was doing directly in that part, you could tell that the word had gotten around. but mrs. jordan was trying to help arthur. that was -- you could kind of see that. nobody ever wrote an article about that, but you heard information about that threat the press coverage at that time. >> yes? >> a couple of questions. we talked about different parallels between then and now, and i would be interested about race than what parallels you might see. also, you are talking about the then and now. kind of feeling like we are condemned to repeat history in
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conclusion, >> yes, i think it is a powerful way that is central. when i talk about those principles, you know, that we debate and have read through, liberal conservative divisions, waste runs through those. that is a big part of it. i think that one thing that is remarkable about this story, and i remember, inauguration day down pennsylvania avenue and he he is on national tv -- oh my goodness, that was beverly snow had her corner. that's where she was assaulted. not even barack obama knows. this is the quintessential barack obama story. nobody knows it. this doesn't directly answer your question, but the idea of joseph, it is just like written out of history. black history is sort of religiously forgotten.
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that is my only explanation for why this story was not known. when nobody knows the story of the riot of 18%. are we condemned to repeat it? experience tells us that these continuities run very deep. you know? the backlash against obama i think is very akin to the fact backlash of beverly snow. i don't see any other way to yeah, i think the country is in better shape. but the underlying dynamic is still there. >> kind of beyond the scope of the book, but was there any sort of organized or vocalized response from the black community in washington dc at the time?
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>> where basically everyone runs and hides? there was. in fact, isaac cary, who is a blogger, probably beverly snow's best friend, had a barbershop next to the restaurant. he filed a lawsuit, because there was a crackdown on black businesses after all this happened. perversely, the responsible white riot was to crack down on businesses and deny blacks the right to own licenses, in his case, he was selling perfume in his barbershop and he wanted to keep his license to sell perfume and he won the case. but the riot was very discouraging and a lot of this, the most able and successful blacks, beverly snow and another three black men were together in
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toronto. thomas cary and isaac cary wound up in toronto. it was an exodus. because they had really reached the limits of what was possible in washington. and they had seen that they were not going to be allowed to go any farther. so they moved on. >> say something about the research, your frustrations? >> well, i always, like your question, i knew i was going to do this but because the sources were so interesting. there were so many good sources. probably the first and foremost was an important, by the time it takes place, she has been keeping a diary of her life for close to 40 years. pretty much wrote down every day, you know, five days a week, six days a week, what happened in her life. this is not an emotional diary. it was not a confessional of sorts, but she just wrote about
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what happened in her life. mr. adams, that was john quincy adams -- he came over. she read mary shelley's frankenstein. she went to the market and she paid, you know, 12 cents for a dozen eggs and she wrote down everything -- on her purchases. for re-creating daily life, this was an extraordinary thing. many realize amini realized that i was going to be able to re-create daily life in a very intimate, realistic way. i don't want to write a book about congressmen and politicians, but how life was in washington. that became a mission of mine. to write a book about living in washington and not washington politics. the daily newspaper was an abundant source of information. we have these different tendencies, so they would look at things slightly differently.
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you know, and you could get a lot of information that way. i spent a lot of time in the national archives, and i found the docket of the court so you could find out who is breaking the law, how they were breaking the law, giving a real sense of the texture of daily life. finally the last thing was the property tax records, which were also important. there are contract beverly snow getting richer by the year. when it comes to town, he has nothing. then he has a hundred dollars. third year he has 300. if you're making $300 a year that time, you are starting to move into the middle class. so you could track him that way. that was another way that really, you know, learned a lot about the characters are in this
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book. and then there was francis kottke himself, who is -- everybody knows, they get there yet there hasn't been a biography written since 1939. so there was a lot about francis scott key and roger tommy as well. i found many indictments in the court records. hand signed by francis scott key. in my hand, had a hundred autographs of francis scott key. that was, you know, that was a great thing. i think the thing i'm most proud of is finding out who beverly snow was through his advertising. he left no records or diary. wherever he went, he tended to draw attention because people always have anecdotes about him. i really didn't know that much about him until i had seen some
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of the advertisements and thought it was interesting. and then i realized the need to go back and read every single newspaper and get every single advertisement. that is going to be where he expressed himself. in fact, he is very funny and you get a sense of the man. one of the favorite ads was helpmate sheet. and he was selling the idea of good food good for you. a very modern idea. beverly snow was a great -- and the true washington tradition come he was a master of self-promotion. he was great on it. a self invented american. and i think that that is really the thing that i like the most about this book. this person who nobody knew existed actually comes to life and you realize what a great and unusual person he was. and there he is on the pages of the book. >> did you compile the book all at once, absorb the information and then compile the book? or as he went, did you revise it
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>> did you get overwhelmed at times or did you pace yourself? >> well, i have written the article, the magazine article, so i had expressed it. but when i started to write the book, i decided that i would not start writing right away. and i spent about nine months just doing research. then just the idea was to get everything in place and don't try to start too early. once i have that in place, i wasn't overwhelmed. i mean, it took a while. there were three drafts of this book. three different versions of it. it took a while to get it under control and figure out what was most important and what could be cut out. one version was like 700 pages long. by the end of this, probably 300 pages long. a lot got left out. would you are very lucky for. >> it took a while to get the
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material under control, for sure. >> did you use a planning system, or did you use the geological stratification system? [laughter] what i did was i made a file and had a separate file folder for the key period of the book in 1835 and 1836, where i had folder for every day of the year. in every newspaper article, i would put it into -- i would put it into that. when the time came and i was writing about august of 1835, i could pull out this and i would have all of the newspaper articles and notes in a row and ready to tell the story like that. you never want to sit down as a writer and look at of late page. and then you go oh, my goodness. like you don't know where to begin and you don't know what to do. you always want to have good notes in front of you. really what you want to do with his edit the notes and turn the
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notes into prose and poetry. so you're never looking at a blank page. that is how i could get going on it. >> so you do this by hard copy? or on your computer? copies. the newspapers of the library of congress, you can only make photocopies. machine or you could make pbs write up a newspaper. so i had to, at some point, i had a parallel -- two parallel systems that were kind of inefficient. that was the only way to do it. and there were things that i have found in letters and things like that that i would make copies of, and never turn them into things to go into the computer.
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half of the digital world, but half-and-half. yeah? the change of the city of washington. you mentioned 30,000 people. 12,000 are african-american. of the 12,000, how many are free? >> 6000 plus. the majority by -- >> so there is an exodus after this event. what changes within washington? >> actually, that trend continues. it continues to grow. in fact, by the beginning of the civil war, free black people outnumber sleeves in washington a great deal. so in the next 20 years, you have to understand that if you had to leave the state within one year by law. people, once they got there, they were going to go
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to boston or new york. even though there was no slavery in the states. first of all, you know, philadelphia was a four or five day lag. freedom, they flocked the district and there were jobs there. opportunities there. in washington, again, this was a big surprise to me. this was not plantation slavery. mrs. thornton had a guy who was a slave that she owned named george plant. he was her driver and a jack of all trades who kept her house up and fix the wagon and kept all of that. george plant had a wife who is was free. and she lived in georgetown. they have kids and they were free. he would go home at night. in the morning -- he was a slave that commuted. [laughter] >> but that was one of the variations of slavery in
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washington at that time. also, a lot of slaves made money because their owners would hire them out. they say, okay, you're hired out to the owner of the hotel. the owner of the hotel would pay your own or your wages. but you were there, you a waiter, you made to second hold your own time. slavery was a much more fluid thing in washington. that is one reason why the antislavery movement could get going, was because there was more room and this was one of the things that francis scott key was most upset about. this freedom. these little corners of freedom that the blacks were fighting, everybody understood that that was going to be -- that was one of your foot in the door to greater freedom. that is what they were were trying to progress. like i said, this is when the real ideological thing begins. they were determined to stamp
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out the anti-slavery forces and they are beginning to organize themselves, appeal to public opinion, gain strength in the congress. eventually culminates into the civil war 25 years later. [inaudible question] there were conditions like that. like beverly snow, i had never quite figured this out, but he had a term written into his terms of slavery that he would be free when he was 30. when he was 30, he bought his freedom for $5. that was something that he had been recognized that was due and legally he was due with that.
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it was dying out by the 1830s. but, you know, how people got their freedom, it happened in all different ways. sometimes it was given to them, sometimes when people die, they freed all their slaves. sometimes they said, you know, the slaves would have to pay the going rate, for a healthy young person. i could be $800. $1000 or more, which was a lot of money. you could live for a couple years on a thousand dollars. but there were lots of publications of slavery in washington. lots of race problems, too. it is amazing to think about, there's no doubt about it. washington was more racially integrated city in 1835 than what it was in 2012. there were no black neighborhoods in washington in
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1835. blacks and whites lived very much intermingled. there was no oh, that's a black neighbor. that did not exist at that point in time. >> do know the degree of literacy at this time? >> it is very hard to tell. john cook was a free black man and he was like the smartest black guy in town. everybody agreed. he was the teacher at the school, and he had organized a group of black men, which arthur boeing was part of, which was trying to teach them, here is how you get out of slavery. you know, he had a school and william wormley, who was the son of lynch wormley, also had a school. there was education, but what percentage? i don't know. arthur boeing was very well, obviously, if he could've
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written that column. mrs. thorntonhad time to read and write. how common that was? i don't really know. but it was not unknown that black people were illiterate. okay? anybody else? >> who was mrs. thornton. >> mrs. thornton, so her husband arthur as well. one who taught her how to read and write. in her bedroom that night, it was mrs. thornton, and her servant, she also slept in the
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women. i don't know if that was unusual. and maria bowen were very close. you know, they have fights and they slept in the same bedroom. [inaudible question] >> yap, yap. the acts? two it was her drive to save arthur and save arthur on death row. it all comes down to what president jackson did. she has to convince him. and so she writes in an 18 page
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letter, handwritten letter of 18 whole event. i mean, second by second detail, everything the lead that led up to it and everything that followed. yes, you learn firsthand exactly what she saw and what had happened. all pardon or reflexive pardons, appealing for the pardon of bowman. it is the original. >> how many other fascinating stories do you hear underneath another piece of paper? >> after writing this book, i believe many.
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and i'm sure they can be very unexpected and surprising. i'm still looking for it. >> would that be one of the main this book? or was there another one that you could tell us about? >> that was really the big one. know, the way history taught and the way it can be so misleading. and the way -- the key is to get to the reality of how people are. not the politics and the way history is traditionally construed, but what was the day-to-day life of the people. that is what i came to learn. >> okay, thank you. [applause] for more information, visit jefferson morley.com.
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what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> i am reading mark frost's grand slam. bobby jones and the rise of american golf. it is about the greatest game ever played at the 1915 u.s. open. he reads just like a novelist. a wonderful author, not really enjoyed it. i just read daniel silver's new novel. he writes brilliant novels. also, a book by ben ko, who is a great novelist to write about an american agent who was deeply involved in fighting terrorism. i've spent a summer with a lot of light reading. i have enjoyed it. >> for more information visit booktv.org. here's a look at some great books being featured this week.
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christopher hitchens mortality. 2001 nobel peace prize winner recounts his experiences serving as the united nations secretary general, and interventions, a life in war and peace. danny gannon, present his thoughts on relations between u.s. and israel. in israel, the will to prevail. william silver, professor of finance and economics at new york university's school's stern school of business recounts the life of paul volcker and the triumph of persistence. and strom thurmond's america, a history for besser at emory university chronicles the life and real of the late republican senator from south carolina. william chase examines the personal relationship between bill and hillary clinton and the impact both have had on american politics in the book bill and